Sigh. Like so many things in life, the good stuff isn’t free.
The gents in the club know I have a soft spot for Ardbeg. In fact, the “Uigeadail” is probably my personal favorite whisky right now (See review under “Beverages”). I am slowly nearing the end of a great bottle of the “Airigh Nam Beist”, and the ten year old is brilliant as well.
Ardbeg have blitzed the market over the past couple of years (not to the extent that Bruichladdich has, but…) with a slew of bottlings including (but not limited to) “Blasda”, “Corryvrecken”, “Supernova”, “Renaissance” and now…coming Feb 15th to select markets…”Rollercoaster”. So, being a fan of Ardbeg’s (mostly) heavily-peated offerings, what exactly is the “Ardbeg Problem”?
Call me naive, but I always imagined the whisky industry to be one of refinement, sophistication and adhering to something of a moral compass. Let’s face it, the SWA heavy-handedly enforces many of these whisky morals. Where my naivete shows is in my hoping that somehow whisky prices would be governed by something a little more rigid than the law of supply and demand.
Does this go against my philosophical views on laissez-faire capitalism and uncontested freedom of production and distribution of one’s work? Well, yeah. Do I actually believe that pricing should be controlled? Reluctantly…no. Would I happily buy more if the costs were to drop? Absolutely.
The thing is, there is a prestige that comes along with buying that $100 bottle of whisky. When a dram is offered, we immediately get a sense of our personal value. Would you share your great expensive whiskies with someone who wasn’t a good friend? Of course not. Unfortunately many times the high price tag becomes an advertisement for quality. We all know however, that just because something has a great marketing campaign and snazzy adverts does not mean the product is all it’s cracked up to be.
Which brings us back to Ardbeg. Is it that good? Does the whisky live up to the hype? Well…yes…it is and it does. Is it worth the price tag? Up to you, I suppose. Cost becomes subjective as we assign value to something. How badly we want something determines how much we would be willing to spend on it. My advice…let your tastebuds decide…not the marketing. Taste as much as you can before buying, and use independent reviews to make informed decisions. Arbdeg, for example, can not keep up with production demands. A tip I received…snatch up the ten year old and “Uigeadail” by the case. Canada may soon find itself unable to procure one of Islay’s finest whiskies.
I remember reading a whisky forum a while back, where one of the bloggers, in complimenting a certain distillery, made a snide remark about how if the distillery were to see these positive reviews they would most certainly jack the price. A valid concern? Not sure. Something for another day though.
I suppose in the meantime, boys, we should resign ourselves to ackowledging that we have an expensive vice.
Clint’s insightful little comment to me: “Always remember, whisky is made by Scottish people for Scottish people, so there’s bound to be a way we can save a buck or two.”